Chili Lime Shrimp Salad

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There is nothing like fresh shrimp, straight from the coast. It is hot here on North Carolina–not as hot as usual, but it is definitely summer. This salad is another in our summer series of foods that will help you stay cool and healthy in the hot weather. I love shrimp salads, but I don’t like a lot of mayonnaise on a hot day. This salad uses lime juice to keep the salad flavorful and interesting, but not heavy. I may try this again with some butterfly pasta and make a shrimp pasta salad version of this. Soooo yummy!

The original version of this recipe came from Gina’s Skinny Recipes (here). I added some fresh cucumber and some fresh corn to the mix (who doesn’t love shrimp and corn?) as well as some smoked paprika to the dressing. I also added more lime juice and left out the cilantro because I have not acquired a taste for it. All good! The version below is my version, but you could alter this to suit your own tastes!

Wondering where to buy your shrimp? Before you head out shopping check THIS past SOLE Food Kitchen post on why local shrimp is important!

Chili Lime Shrimp Salad (serves 4 as a main dish)

  • 1 lb. shrimp
  • 1 medium tomato, washed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, ribs and seeds removed, diced
  • 1 cup fresh corn (about 1 ear)
  • 1 avocado, peeled and diced
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  1. Peel and devein shrimp. Put shrimp in a deep sauté pan, cover with water and poach for 2-3 minutes, until shrimp is pink and opaque. Drain and let cool.
  2. While shrimp is cooling, mix lime zest, juice, oil, paprika, salt and pepper together. Whisk until well combined. Set aside.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, combine all remaining ingredients except avocado. Pour dressing over all and carefully stir the salad so all ingredients are coated with dressing.
  4. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  5. Just prior to serving, add the avocado and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and correct if necessary.
  6. Serve chilled.

Other shrimp dishes:

Pasta with Shrimp, Green Beans and Tomato

Roasted Broccoli and Shrimp

Pasta with Shrimp, Asparagus and Mushrooms

Local Shrimp Pad Thai

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Tutorial Tuesday #8–Reducing Your Meat Consumption

Starting a garden is a good way to increase your vegetable intake!

Starting a garden is a good way to increase your vegetable intake!

If someone told you there was one secret to losing weight, improving your health and keeping more of your money in the bank, would you be curious?

Believe it or not, there is one thing you can do to both improve your overall health outcomes and reduce your family food budget. That one thing is:

Reduce the amount of meat your family consumes.

Really. When I look at our food budget, it is obvious when we have a meat-heavy week and when we have a lighter week. Meat is expensive to produce and expensive to purchase. And reducing the amount of meat we eat in our diet has contributed to some major improvements in our weight and health statistics.

Am I telling you to become a vegetarian? No, and for the record, I am not a vegetarian, although I do love plant-based meals. And not all vegetarian fare is healthy (see: French Fries and Funnel Cake). Reducing the amount of animal protein you consume is not the same as eliminating it. You could try one night a week and move it to two or maybe three. How do you do this without a family riot? Here are some suggestions!

Reduce! Use smaller amounts of meat combined with lots of vegetables.

For centuries, humans used meat primarily as a seasoning for vegetables and other carbohydrates like grains. The concept of the large roast dinner (roast beef, full ham, steak and potatoes) came primarily after WWII, when war rations were lifted and middle class Americans suddenly had access to factory farmed (less expensive) meat. Before that, home cooks were creative in stretching a little bit of meat a long way. Actually, most of the rest of the world still does. How do you do that? Here are some ideas:

Collards and hoppin' john uses very little meat for a very satisfying meal!

Collards and hoppin’ john uses very little meat for a very satisfying meal!

  •  Stir fry—protein + vegetables + rice
  • Stews—protein + vegetables + potatoes
  • Pizza—protein + vegetables + dough
  • Casseroles—protein + vegetables + noodles + sauce

Go Meatless and Fun!

Meatless Monday has taken off in homes, hospitals, schools and corporate cafeterias across the country. Going meatless can be a fun challenge! Think your family won’t eat a vegetarian entrée? Check out these ideas:

Family Pizza Contest—We make our own whole wheat crust and family members can make their own special (often secret) pizza using ingredients from the farmer’s market. Once the pizzas are cooked we convene for a pizza tasting and vote for the best pizza. There is always a good time and often a lot of smack talk among contestants. Usually we are surprised—kale on pizza? Yes!

Salad-Palooza—Sometimes family members (especially younger members) just want to have some control over their situation. We shred some fresh lettuce and cut up small bowls of all kinds of vegetables and toppings. Then, everyone makes their own salad their way. No judging. Some of our favorite topics include broccoli, chopped cucumber, chopped red peppers, hard-boiled eggs, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, shredded cheese, olives, and dried fruit. This is a great way to get rid of small amounts of leftover vegetables as well!

Building your own salad puts each diner in control!

Building your own salad puts each diner in control!

Rediscover a favorite—You probably already eat some vegetarian dishes and just didn’t think of them that way. Seeing them in a new light not only makes going meatless seem less intimidating, but it also makes us appreciate some foods we don’t often think about. These familiar dishes are all meatless (although they do involve dairy):

  •  Spaghetti with marinara sauce
  • Grilled cheese and tomato soup
  • Corn and potato chowder
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Salad
  • Peanut butter (or almond butter) and jelly sandwiches
  • Refried bean burritos and guacamole
  • Homemade or vegetarian egg rolls
Pasta with marinara sauce is always a great bet!

Pasta with marinara sauce is always a great bet!

Find Something New—With all the food porn on Pinterest, have your family search for vegetarian dishes that are beautiful and look delicious. Then make them! Again with the control, children aren’t asked very often to choose what everyone eats. They may really get a kick out of it. You could even make the person who chose the dish a dinner ambassador or some other honor. If you have teenagers, let THEM make dinner (you will be surprised).

Go with Stealth—Just don’t tell them. You don’t have to make a big production over going meatless. Sometimes I wait until everyone is finished eating and announced, “Hey, isn’t that amazing–that was a VEGETARIAN dinner!” At first, we had some surprised looks, now it’s just funny.

Use Unusual Cuts of Meat

Steaks, roasts and chops can be a bit pricey. But what about oxtail, shanks, hangar steaks or cheeks? There are cuts of meat that traditionally are underused and much less expensive to buy. Why? Some require longer cooking times and other cuts have just gone out of popularity with the rise of the steak. With a little love, these can be some of the most delicious meals around. Braised Beef Shank Ragu is one of our all-time favorites and makes the most of a less popular (and often less expensive) cut. Don’t know what to try? Ask your farmer or butcher. Anyone selling meat at your farmer’s market will know and will be able to give you some great recipes (and, there’s always Pinterest, right?).

Week 43 Budget and Menu

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Our weather has been perfect for mushrooms! The markets are full of fresh Shitake mushrooms this week!

October! October is here!!! It’s still in 80’s here in North Carolina, so we’re not exactly feelin’ the fall weather, but all the same, we know fall is approaching. Leaves are starting to turn, the often oppressive humidity is gone and mosquitoes are fewer in number. Every region has their own seasonal benchmarks. You may have fall hayrides, we have a decline in blood-sucking mosquitoes.

I’d love to have nothing but chili, stew and baked pasta this week, but it’s too warm for such cozy fare. Instead, we are focusing on lighter foods that still feature our seasonal fruits and vegetables. I am especially excited that I found fresh, organic Shitake mushrooms at our downtown farmer’s market! Apparently, our fall weather has been perfect for them!

I also had great success with making my own refried beans this week! It was very easy, and I used some heirloom beans leftover from making chili, so it was a good use of extra food. I made the refried beans  on the bland side so I can add whatever spices I want later. We’re using them on bean tostatas later this week along with some leftover tortillas and cheese. We also have extra corn and leftover crab meat (now frozen) from a few weeks ago and that will make a lovely corn and crab chowder. Don’t you love it when leftover foods come together in something that approximates a meal?

Our budget this week is definitely helped by Tom’s fishing success and a weekly coupon from Locals Seafood. Every little bit helps, especially when the cost of food keeps rising.

Breakfasts this week include Ezekiel bread, muffins, and probably some whole wheat buttermilk pancakes. We are using our homemade jam, which is wonderful and we will get another jar of local honey in this week’s Produce Box!

I hope you are taking advantage of some wonderful fall produce in your area (or spring if you are in the southern hemisphere!). Have a happy and healthy week!

Budget [$109.51]

  • The Produce Box (acorn squash, honey, sweet onions, lettuce, apples, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow squash, green beans, mixed sweet peppers): $48.00
  • Locals Seafood (shrimp): $10.00
  • Hilltop Farm Organics (Shitake mushrooms): $4.30
  • Mitchell Family Pantry (jam): $3.00
  • Hillsborough Cheese Company (goat cheese): $6.00
  • Trader Joes (pasta, organic rice, organic chicken, frozen fruit, almond milk, almonds): $38.21

Menu for Week 42

  • Wednesday–Roasted red pepper, mushroom and shrimp pasta, salad
  • Thursday–Leftovers (we have some left from last week!)
  • Friday–Game night–Refried bean, mushroom and cheese tostatas
  • Saturday–Corn and crab chowder
  • Sunday–Roast chicken, acorn squash with honey and sage, green beans
  • Monday–Game night–Chicken and vegetable quesadillas
  • Tuesday–Roasted whole fish, squash and zucchini saute

Week 40 Budget and Menu

Fall is on the horizon here and no matter how much kicking and whining I do about not having enough peaches or tomatoes, my time is still running out. Our farmer’s markets in central North Carolina are shifting to fall crops and some of our vendors who specialize in summer season crops have bowed out until next year. Kinda sad, but like all casual friendships, we will look forward to seeing them soon and hearing all about the new spring crops.

While I will certainly miss all my summer favorites, I am looking forward to running without 90 degrees and 110% humidity. Tom and I begin our half-marathon training in earnest this month, so our dishes will be focused on giving us the nutrients and power to add on miles to our runs.

This week’s menu is helped out by two bloggers, Amy at What Jew Wanna Eat and Jovina at Jovina Cooks Italian. Glad to have some inspiration! Both have wonderful blogs, so check them out!

Budget [$123.50]

The Produce Box (peaches, apples, sprite melon, squash/zucchini, bell peppers, cucumber, local butter!, organic cornmeal, lettuce, organic cherry tomatoes, organic okra): $51.00
Locals Seafood (flounder): $14.00
La Farm Bakery (bread): $4.50 Various farm vendors (onions, kale): $3.00 Trader Joes (yogurt, beans, organic canned pumpkin, frozen fruit): $28.00 The Cultured Cow (cheddar, gouda): $14.00
Mitchell Family Pantry (tomato soup, jam, frozen corn): $9.00

Menu

Wednesday–Egg salad sandwiches, fruit salad
Thursday–Cornmeal dusted flounder, okra “fries”, squash
Friday–Pasta con sarde, green salad
SaturdayCheesy Pumpkin Quinoa Stuffed Peppers, green salad
Sunday–Pumpkin chili with zucchini cornbread
Monday–Grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup
Tuesday–Leftover chili and cornbread

Week 32 Budget and Menu

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You know that song, “Life in the Fast Lane?” We’ll, I’m definitely not living the boozy, drug life the Eagles sang about, but life sure has gone back into hyper drive. Ellie is back in school, the fall sports season is cranking up, Tom and I are training for our first ever half marathon and we have some family crises to negotiate. So this week, I am planning our meals, but I’m not entirely sure we’ll get to eat them all. We may have some carryover into next week (thank goodness for the freezer!).

Our budget is way over. Again. That seems so crazy to me because we aren’t even eating much meat and we saved a lot by buying a whole fish to roast instead of fillets. But, there it is. Thankfully, we’ll have some carryover sweet potatoes and maybe tomatoes for next week!

Budget [$133.44]

  • La Farm Bakery (bread): $4.50
  • The Produce Box (sweet potatoes, sweet onions, organic cherry tomatoes, okra, pink eye field peas, watermelon, eggplant, mixed peppers, heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella): $46.45
  • Locals Seafood (shrimp, whole Spanish Mackerel): $18.96
  • Homestead Harvest Farm (eggs): $5.00
  • Hillsborough Cheese Company (feta): $4.00
  • Other vendors (peaches, kale): $8.00
  • Trader Joes (Shredded cheese, black beans, lemons, rice, organic chicken, oranges, proscuitto, frozen fruit, almond milk): $46.53

Menu

  • Wednesday–Grilled Caprese sandwiches with homemade pickles
  • Thursday–Sweet potato, black bean and chorizo pizza
  • Friday–Roasted tomato and feta shrimp over rice
  • Saturday–Oven roasted fish with field peas, okra and tomatoes
  • Sunday–Citrus chicken with leftover field pea mix
  • Monday–Peach and prosciutto panzanella salad
  • Tuesday–Citrus chicken salad with leftover panzanella

Summer Ratatouille and Pasta

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I have found myself both busy and distracted in the past few weeks, and as a result, I haven’t been posting (or cooking) as much as I would like. Life is like that–full of surprises, choices, decisions and turning points. I’m feeling pretty good about some decisions I’ve made lately, although they have taken my attention away from SOLE Food Kitchen for just a teeny minute. I’m trying to get back in the groove!

This dish is a wonderful vegetarian creation based on the dish ratatouille, although it’s a bit messier than the neatly sliced and arranged dish. It is hearty, but not heavy and, if you use soy cheese (or no cheese), it is also a vegan dish. We served just the vegetable mix as a side dish with fish this week and served the leftovers over organic bucatini pasta–a thicker, chewier version of spaghetti. You could use any vegetables you want in this dish as long as they are fresh. We used the traditional eggplant, tomatoes, fennel, onions and garlic. It was very good, and used up a lot of vegetables we had from our Produce Box this week.

Summer Ratatouille and Pasta (makes about 6 serving)

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 small fennel bulb, washed and sliced thin
4 medium or large tomatoes, washed, trimmed and quartered
1 pint cherry tomatoes, washed and stems removed
1 large eggplant, washed and cubed
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons Herbs de Provence
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil

1 lb. bucatini pasta
Grated Parmesan cheese

Put a large pot of water on to boil for pasta.
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium low heat.
Add onions and garlic. Sauté for 1-2 minutes until onions start to soften (do not let the garlic brown).
Add the fennel and continue cooking another 1-2 minutes. Lower heat if necessary to keep garlic from scorching.
Add the quartered tomatoes and sauté for about 3 minutes or until tomatoes start to release their juices.
Add eggplant and cherry tomatoes. Season with herbs, salt and pepper. Stir well and cook over medium low heat for about 15 minutes.
Add capers, stir well. Correct for seasoning, if necessary.
Season boiling pasta water with a generous amount (3 tablespoons) of salt. Cook pasta according to directions (the bucatini take about 8 minutes).
Drain pasta and toss with the vegetable mixture.
Serve hot with a sprinkle of Parmesan or soy cheese.

Chili Lime Shrimp Salad

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There is nothing like fresh shrimp, straight from the coast. It is hot here on North Carolina–not as hot as usual, but it is definitely summer. This salad is another in our summer series of foods that will help you stay cool and healthy in the hot weather. I love shrimp salads, but I don’t like a lot of mayonnaise on a hot day. This salad uses lime juice to keep the salad flavorful and interesting, but not heavy. I may try this again with some butterfly pasta and make a shrimp pasta salad version of this. Soooo yummy!

The original version of this recipe came from Gina’s Skinny Recipes (here). I added some fresh cucumber and some fresh corn to the mix (who doesn’t love shrimp and corn?) as well as some smoked paprika to the dressing. I also added more lime juice and left out the cilantro because I have not acquired a taste for it. All good! The version below is my version, but you could alter this to suit your own tastes!

Wondering where to buy your shrimp? Before you head out shopping check THIS past SOLE Food Kitchen post on why local shrimp is important!

Chili Lime Shrimp Salad (serves 4 as a main dish)

1 lb. shrimp
1 medium tomato, washed and chopped
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
1 jalapeño pepper, ribs and seeds removed, diced
1 cup fresh corn (about 1 ear)
1 avocado, peeled and diced
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 3 limes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Peel and devein shrimp. Put shrimp in a deep sauté pan, cover with water and poach for 2-3 minutes, until shrimp is pink and opaque. Drain and let cool.
While shrimp is cooling, mix lime zest, juice, oil, paprika, salt and pepper together. Whisk until well combined. Set aside.
In a medium sized bowl, combine all remaining ingredients except avocado. Pour dressing over all and carefully stir the salad so all ingredients are coated with dressing.
Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Just prior to serving, add the avocado and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and correct if necessary.
Serve chilled.

Other shrimp dishes:

Pasta with Shrimp, Green Beans and Tomato

Roasted Broccoli and Shrimp

Pasta with Shrimp, Asparagus and Mushrooms

Local Shrimp Pad Thai

Arugula Pesto

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My produce box this week arrived with a HUGE bag of organic arugula (also called rocket lettuce). If you haven’t tried fresh arugula, give it a try! It has a super fresh, peppery taste that adds a lot of zing to salad greens, sandwiches, pizza (in Italy we had prosciutto pizza topped with fresh arugula after it came out of the oven–AMAZING!) or on top of risotto (toss a handful on top of cooked risotto–yum! Since this was a softball game night, I used a couple handfuls to make this delicious arugula pesto, which I served in wrap sandwiches with smoked turkey, prosciutto and cheese. The garlicky, salty, spicy pesto added a similar punch to mustard, but with a cleaner, brighter flavor. The best part is, I have leftover pesto to use this week on lunch sandwiches or with our chicken!

Arugula can vary from peppery to downright bitter, so when your shopping, taste the arugula before you buy (farmers are pretty good about that if you ask), or look for “baby arugula” which has a milder taste.

Arugula Pesto (1 cup)

2 packed cups of washed arugula leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup pine nuts

Put all ingredients in a small food processor and purée until smooth.

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Parisian Salad

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This recipe is based on a wonderful salad I had at a cafe in the Marais neighborhood in Paris. It is chock full of seasonal, local vegetables as well as tasty bits of prosciutto and a lightly fried egg. The egg and ham with the asparagus is really going to rock your taste buds! Delicious! And a complete meal. We are on day 5 of our Salad-a-Day challenge and having fun making up new salad recipes!

Parisian Salad (serves 2)

  • 1 head organic fresh lettuce (romaine, red leaf, green leaf), washed and dried
  • 1/2 cup of micro greens
  • 1 organic garden radish, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 organic carrot, washed, peeled and diced
  • 1 organic tomato, washed and chopped
  • 1/2 organic cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 pound fresh asparagus, washed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto
  • 2 farm eggs
  • Grated Parmesan reggiano cheese
  • Salad dressing of your choice.
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil.
  2. Trim asparagus and toss with olive oil. Spread on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Roast asparagus in oven for 15 minutes or until browned ( this will depend on how thick the stalks are).
  3. While asparagus is roasting, arrange greens on a salad plate or nice bowl. Make a well in the center and put tomatoes in the well.
  4. Arrange the remaining vegetables on the greens.
  5. Arrange two slices of prosciutto on each salad plate.
  6. When asparagus is done, remove pan from oven and add 1/2 of asparagus to each salad plate.
  7. In a saute pan, fry the 2 eggs, but leave the yolks a little soft. Add one egg to each salad plate.
  8. Serve immediately with your choice of vinaigrette dressing and a sprinkle of cheese.

Week 13 Budget and Menu

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As we cruise on into the Holy Week of Easter and March Madness, we are hoping for spring weather, but all we see is leftover winter. And you know how leftovers are, right? At first, they seem like yummy gifts, then they seem more like an obligation and finally you start to resent their very presence in your refrigerator. I’m like that with the weather right now. In August, I’ll be complaining about the heat, but right now, the cold weather just seems wrong. I want to grill something while I’m watching my bracket helplessly implode, not huddle around a pot of stew. And Miami? It’s all riding on you. No pressure or anything, but mama needs a new cast iron Dutch oven. Let’s get it right, people. Ok? Ok.

Moving on back to food, our farmer’s markets are still offering the usual late winter variety of root vegetables, greens and potatoes. There isn’t a whole lot of excitement right now in regards to veggies, although from the photo above, you can tell that our farmers are trying to maintain enthusiasm!

In a few weeks, I’ll begin my “What’s Fresh at the Market” postings, but at this point, it’s all the same list. Our menu this week is still making the most of what we have in our garden and pantry, but I’m trying to change things up a bit so we don’t get bored. We’ve got some solid standby’s with fish tacos and shrimp pad Thai, as well as some new recipes with the Brussels sprout salad and sweet potato/chipotle pepper soup. It should be a tasty week!

As for our budget, we are definitely over. We’re having another week of seafood from our NC waters, but it did up our budget (plus we added more dried fruit to make energy bars). On the bright side, I found raw cashews at Trader Joes for $6.99 a pound–half of what Whole Foods charges!!! More raw double fudge in our future!

Budget [$111.93]

  • Mae Farm (bacon): $7.00
  • Locals Seafood (fish, shrimp): $18.00
  • Various farmer’s market vendors (onions, new crop pecans, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato): $14.00
  • Rare Earth Farm (buttermilk, eggs): $9.00

  • Trader Joes (blue cheese, chipotle peppers, portabello mushrooms, Asian noodles, scallions, frozen fruit, yogurt, soy milk): $55.93
  • Whole Foods (heirloom beans, dates): $8.00

Menu

  • Sunday–Roasted Brussels sprouts salad with bacon, blue cheese and pecans, deviled farm eggs
  • Monday–Fish tacos with sweet potato/chipotle pepper soup
  • Tuesday–Heirloom beans with bacon and caramelized onions
  • Wednesday–Girl Scouts; leftover beans and rice
  • Thursday–Heather’s easy shrimp pad Thai
  • Friday–Pan seared whiting with tomatoes and sauteed greens
  • Saturday–Portabello and seared steak “pizzas” with leftover blue cheese
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